Everyone has challenges. The Bible is full of stories of lives marked by hardship. The Bible contains a real and raw account of what its like to live as broken people in a fallen world. In truth, I have found it to be unparalleled amongst literature in its insight into the human state.
Even so, the overarching Biblical narrative is one not a tale of woe. The Bible, whilst portraying the pain of this life, reveals the faithfulness of God in the midst of it all. It presents us with an undying truth of God’s goodness, a goodness which is not circumstantially dependent, but is rather, unchanging.
That is not to say that God, out of the riches of His mercy, does not choose to change circumstances – working them together for good. On the contrary! What it means is that our circumstances do not change the nature of our God.
What about when God doesn’t ‘fix’ our problems?
God promises us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11) and at times that means Him parting waters and calming storms on our behalf. Oftentimes, however, He chooses not to step in and ‘move our mountains’ so to speak, but instead chooses to climb them with us.
The absence of His removing of our obstacles is surely not the absence of His presence or activity in our lives. If the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 remains true and the goodness of God is not dependent on our situations, then we must find a new perspective.
It has only been recently in my darkest moments amidst a current challenge that I have gained the clearest revelation of God’s goodness...
My limited understanding
In prior years, when chaos erupted in my life my response was akin to a two throwing themselves onto the floor and having a tantrum...
In my pain and limited understanding, I would chuck the promises and character of God back in His face – How could you possibly be a good loving Father if you’re allowing this to happen to me? Why did you leave me when I needed you the most?
My indicator, so to speak, of God being good, with and for me, was how well things were going in my life. My view of God was easily warped and lacked solidity.
It seemed to me that if God wasn’t moving my mountains, He had left me.
That’s a very lonely feeling to have when your back is up against the wall. In fact, it adds to the weight and questions which are already pressing down on your back.
I needed to find a new perspective.
Or perhaps, to see things the way they really had been all along.
The book of Habakkuk
Someone I know brought up the book of Habakkuk with me. In the book, the prophet Habakkuk shares his doubts and frustrations God about the prevailing evil around Him. During the book, Habakkuk’s people are brutally invaded and Habakkuk witnesses the destruction of all that he knows.
After a back and forth dialogue between God and the prophet, Habakkuk ends the book poignantly:
“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there is no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Saviour.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
He enables me to tread on the heights.”
These verses really struck me. Habakkuk, after all of his internal wrestling finally makes peace within Himself that, regardless of all that is happening around him – which is a depth of desolation and desperation I have never come close to encountering – God is still good.
In fact, he chooses to rejoice in God even in his sufferings, declaring that God is with him and enables him to climb the mountain which is before him.
Habakkuk forged an iron clad trust in God.
A shift in thinking
So what did that mean for me then? After chewing and rechewing on this verse I came to point where I finally declared;
God, even if this situation never changes and this struggle persists indefinitely, you’re still good.
It was a painful release, letting go of accusing God for all that was wrong in my life, but something about it was quite healing.
It was at this point that it felt like my eyes were opened to where God had been all along: right beside me. I was awoken to a realisation that I had everything I needed and that there were so many people around me who loved me and were doing all they could to help me.
How many times had people given me words of encouragement, helped me to set up appointments, prayed for me and stayed with me when I was falling apart?
God chose to provide for me over and over again, even after all of my anger and confusion towards Him.
God is a faithful God.
That’s kind of a major theme in the Bible isn’t it?
Has the challenge I’m facing been removed?
But I have a greater sense of peace than I did before. There’s something about knowing that Jesus is right there beside me helping me to find the next foothold.
He keeps speaking to me that He is with me, and honestly, I cry so much because I keep realising just how loved I am.
So, then, what should we say about all this?
Everyone has mountains. Sometimes God moves them, sometimes He doesn’t. But we can trust Him, because either way He is still with us.
He is still good.
Lucy Miles can often be found singing or dancing her way through any one particular moment. Such joyous expression is brought forth from her love of the Lord, learning and people. She currently lives in Switzerland and is enrolled in a Ministry and Leadership Development School with Youth with a Mission (YWAM) and is excited to step into a staff role in January of next year.